Transit Still Doesn't Get Cost Control

Article excerpt

The Metropolitan Planning Council put out a statement the other day in which it could barely contain its glee over the "banner month" August has turned out to be for regional transportation.

In it, the agency pointed to three "milestones" -- the big toll increase that was approved for a major road construction plan, legislation signed by Gov. Pat Quinn that allows government transportation agencies to engage in private partnerships to help finance new projects and progress toward building a Bus Rapid Transit network in Chicago.

We agree with the planning council, as we often do, that efficient mass transit is a key to the region's health and development, and to that extent, we share its enthusiasm. That said, as anyone who read our editorials about the excessive increase in tolls already knows, we're concerned that despite dire financial budgets, leaders with most of the area's main transportation agencies remain out of touch with true cost controls.

And it would be good for all those leaders to understand that their agencies' roles are not about creating jobs for the construction industry. Their role is to create efficient transportation networks for the metropolitan area.

Whatever the case, as transit agency officials mouth platitudes about budget cuts, the record is replete with examples of misguided spending at a time when competition for dollars is keen.

There is, of course, the employee perk, reported here, in which most Toll Authority employees receive free passage through toll booths for most toll authority employees not just on agency business, but for daily commutes to and from their tollway jobs. …